North Carolina Virtual School to Offer Physical Education Online


A North Carolina school is piloting an online physical education course beginning this fall.

The North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS), which is funded by the state’s General Assembly, offers a variety of online courses. If the PE pilot is successful in Macon and New Hanover counties, the course could be available statewide in 2016. It will debut at Isaac Bear Early College and Wilmington Early College high schools because neither school has a PE teacher.

Karen Creech, the Instructional Director of NCVPS, said:

We knew there was a need to offer PE online, so we thought outside the box and came up with a program that we believe will give students a valuable high school physical education experience. Now that we will provide PE online, NCVPS offers all the courses a student would need to earn a diploma from his or her local high school.

Its instructors will provide a demonstration on video and students will be expected to build up a video portfolio of the same sports and skills to display their progress. Non-skill-based topics include fitness testing, safety, goal setting, progress tracking, sportsmanship, teamwork, and problem solving, writes Hannah DelaCourt of the Star News.

Students can enroll in the nine-week course for half a credit or take it along with a health course for a full credit.

Thu-Huong Ha of Quartz quoted Mia Murphy, the program’s Director of Outreach and Support, spoke to the limitations of online gym classes:

Obviously, we’re not working in real time and students aren’t working face to face. In our courses, there’s truly a focus on learning a particular skill. But in terms of pick-up basketball, in virtual learning, we can’t do that type of activity.

Since the NCVPS doesn’t award diplomas, most students who take advantage of NCVPS courses do so as a supplement to traditional high school education, such as using them to catch up on credits or take AP courses not offered at their schools. Others are homebound, are athletes who need an alternate schedule, or experience extreme anxiety when faced with PE, notes News 13.

Its Curriculum Director, Jennifer Nobles, said:

We are probably the most student-centered organization you’ll come across. We believe strongly in the idea that, when there’s a more personal connection, you’re going to know your students better, and they’re gonna work harder for you.

Other courses NCVPS offers include Forensic Science, Biotechnology, and professional courses in common business applications like Microsoft’s SharePoint. For middle school students, it provides Discovering Photography and Middle School Success 101. The service also has professional development courses for teachers like Individualized Learning and Shattering the Myths of Online and Blended Learning.

According to Public Schools of North Carolina, NCVPS was founded in 2006 and is the second-largest state virtual school in the US.